It's by no means the most glamorous part of puppy-raising, but I'd been thinking for a while that I should address the issue of doggie potty time. And now with the fatal shooting of a man in Tacony who, according to police, had simply asked his neighbor to pick up his dog's poop, I realize it's high time to talk.
We train the Seeing Eye pups to eliminate before we take them out walking, using the command "park time." This part of training is crucial, because it is extremely difficult for a blind person to stop along the way to locate and dispose of dog waste. Before I take Sparkle and Porter out, we spend a minute or two in the backyard and I give the command for them to go.
Before we leave, I always make sure I have a poop bag, usually a plastic supermarket bag, and paper towels on me. About half the time, at least one of the dogs will have to take a potty break while we're walking. Everyone who walks a dog, not just a puppy-raiser, needs to develop a system of how to pick up the poop and carry it home for disposal. (I consider people who don't routinely pick up and dispose of poop to be outlaw dog owners, in the same category as those who let their dogs run loose in populated areas. And they give the rest of us a bad rap.)
On the other hand, I have encountered over the years a few irrational homeowners. Here's one: On one muggy summer evening at dusk, I was walking Porter, Timber and Sparkle's mom, Velma, past a house when a guy started screaming at us from behind. I had given the dogs a spritz from the water bottle as I passed his house, and he thought it was urine on his sidewalk. I kept yelling "Water! It's water!" and waving the bottle aloft for him to see. He was so irate that my daughter was actually afraid he would attack us. Finally, he simply turned and stormed off into his house without a word.
On organized outings, where I take Sparkle's backpack, I make sure there are extra paper towels and bags. I also keep Sparkle moving ahead when we are walking. I discourage her from dallying to sniff signs, hydrants, mailboxes and other places where dogs have left their so-called "pee mail."
I know this is an emotional topic, but I do pray that cooler heads prevail.